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librarians in training in the UK

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Any help would be great [Jan. 7th, 2008|03:23 pm]
librarians in training in the UK


Hi I'm Rachel and I'm planning to apply for the MA Library and Information Management at Manchester Met. This is no prior experience required course and I'm hoping they mean this as I don't have any library experience. This is not for want of trying as I've applied for quite a few LA jobs but have been told I don't have enough experience.

As none of the libraries where I live in Sheffield seem to take volunteers it remains a Catch 22 situation. I do have a degree in English but didn't finish it til 2005 due to my long term health problems. Since then I have been doing voluntary work at various charities and then started applying for library jobs.

I've thought about applying for the Graduate Traineeship but I think I would find it hard going going from working p/t to a f/t job, I would imagine the MA will be less hours.

Does anyone have any advice or applied to an MA with no prior experience? Would anyone mind giving me some ideas for my application? This what I've always wanted to do and I really want to make a go of it, even if it is somewhat against the odds. Thanks.

[User Picture]From: erinleighralph
2008-01-07 05:54 pm (UTC)
Hey! I was accepted into Robert Gordon, Manchester, U of the West of England (Bristol) and Strathclyde all without previous experience. I'm overseas, but I'm pretty sure that most don't require extensive previous experience.

Good luck!
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[User Picture]From: ms_rivet
2008-01-09 04:51 pm (UTC)
Thanks v much :)
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[User Picture]From: firebird_82
2008-01-07 09:20 pm (UTC)
I wouldn't say the MA is less work than a f/t job at all, especially is it was a basic library experience job! I did a graduate traineeship in Cambridge prior to doing the course at Northumbria (which also doesn't require experience), and I found the experience a huge benefit when doing the course, and when applying for 'proper' jobs afterwards. I guess it depends on your individual situation, but there are quite a few basic library jobs around, though you'd probably need to pretend you don't have a degree if you're not going for a traineeship...
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[User Picture]From: ms_rivet
2008-01-08 12:05 am (UTC)
I've actually applied and had interviews for quite a few basic library jobs but was told i didn't have enough experience. I did tell them about my degree though.
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[User Picture]From: mab_led
2008-01-09 03:35 pm (UTC)
hello! I live in Sheffield and did a degree in English Lit at Sheffield Uni so I can sympathise! It can be a bugger getting experience around here! And people aren't usually lining up to employ you Lit graduate unless you want to be a teacher!

After graduating I worked for a couple of years in crap jobs and tried to think of a career to get into.

Once I hit on Librarianship it took me many months to get work experience lined up...I had to be really really tenacious because every time I phoned up they tried to put me off! They SAY they don't do it, they SAY they only take kids from local colleges...but I just kept nagging! I asked to speak to one of the head honchos (sorry I forget his name) and he was nice and helped a lot.

Well eventually I did a week in 2 local public libraries (Walkley and Broomhill) doing shelving, processing, tidying up, helping with kid's reading time and crafts...very basic tasks really but it looks good on applications.

Armed with this experience I applied for jobs. A LOT of jobs. Public libraries weren't interested. (I don't know if they have anything against graduates, or maybe we both just have too little experience?) But I got a job as an library assistant at a law college in Leeds. I worked there for a year and used THIS experience to get on the Sheffield Librarianship course. (Its a good course- I don't know if you've considered it?)

As you can see, it been a matter of stepping stones for me. Even though most people probably think I'm not very far on the career path (and I'm not!) its taken effort to get here! So good luck, keep trying and be tenacious!

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[User Picture]From: mab_led
2008-01-09 04:12 pm (UTC)
oops..I just realised you seem to be asking about NOT doing experience...

well I still think its valuable. What if you splash out on the course, get your first job, then realise its not for you?

That said, perhaps you just know. In which case...yeah, you can do without it.

There even are a couple of people on the Sheffield course who don't have library expereince..and its supposed to be mandatory. So I'm sure on a course where its optional, they won't argue.

You just need to match up any jobs/volunteer work/studies with library skills. Customer service and all that. You're not supposed to say you want to work in a library 'cos you like reading, but you should put any other reasons for your enthusiasm (interest in information managment or what have you) in the application. Oh, and read up on library issues (I just read some blogs and websites) because they might ask about that if there's an interview.
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[User Picture]From: ms_rivet
2008-01-09 04:50 pm (UTC)
As i said I've tried and failed to get experience.Maybe I haven't pressed hard enough but I lack in self confidence and have issues with depression ads well as physical health problems. I wish I had your balls!

I have a possible new lead for some experience so I'm going to apply for the course but also try and do that in the meantime.

I've worked in a book shop and also done reception work so hopefully that will count and I used information management skills for my degree and an article I wrote on alt fashion so I'll mention that.

I read quite a lot about library issues for my LA interviews but I probably should update my reading as it was a few months ago now. I realised I wasn't going to get anywhere with public LA jobs after having about 5 interviews and getting told the same thing every time. Do you have any useful links that you can remember?

Thanks so much for your help and advice, I'm glad I'm not alone in finding Sheffield shit for experience. I have considered applying for the Sheffield MA if I don't get into Man Met and can get the experience by the following year.

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[User Picture]From: mab_led
2008-01-09 09:37 pm (UTC)
eah...sorry I didn't read your post more carefully at first! I just saw "Sheffield" "Libraries" "Volunteer Work" and I was transported (mentally) back to that situation.. feeling the frustration and annoyance of seemingly getting nowhere..feeling like I was all alone...basically I was so quick to share your pain and cheer you on that I didn't stop to read properly!

I actually think working in a book shop and reception work pretty much amount to entry-level library work, which is all I have experience of. You've got dealing with a variety of patrons, 'reference' style questions, admin, teamworking etc...just in a different context.

Its funny you say I have 'balls!' Heh. I wish I was that kind of person, but honestly I'm painfully shy. Its been a problem for me my whole life.

I think at that stage...I was working in a call centre, worrying I was going to be stuck in crap jobs the rest of my life...then when I called up Central Libraries I'd get a different answer from everyone I spoke to! In the end I found out who was in charge and spoke to him...he was actually quite flattered that a graduate would want work experience and didn't need too much persuasion..honestly, I am the type of person who gets really funny about phoning up strangers or bothering people who might not want to know..but I'd reached the end of my tether at that point and just had to bite the bullet. And it wasn't that bad! Really!

Oh, by the way...my interview at Sheffield Uni was WAY easier and less pressured that any of the public library interviews I've had. Just 1 person, a few easy questions, and a very informal, cheery style. It wouldn't surprise me if Manchester Met was similar. They WANT you to do well at the interview, they WANT lots of stdents bringing revenue to the Uni. Unlike Central Libraries where i always feel like I'm about to be executed before a firing squad of 3 scary people!

I'll see if I can find some useful links for you..really, as long as you've thought a bit about libraries present and future you'll be fine.
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[User Picture]From: ms_rivet
2008-01-09 11:32 pm (UTC)
It's definitely good to know that I'm not alone :)

Hopefully I can bend what I do have like I did in my job applications.

I'm odd in some situations I'm shy but in others I'm fine. People tend to get the impression I'm confident as I don't generally have problems talking to people but it's a big front.

I'd be quite happy with an office monkey job til I (hopefully) get into an MA. I've been chronically ill since I was 20 (I'm now 27) which meant I didn't finish my degree til 2005. After that I started doing voluntry work as I'd been too busy being ill and finishing my degree to get experience. I started looking for paid work over a year ago now but have had no luck with perm jobs so it's temp work to try next.

I've also had a different answers from the Central Library and Sheffield Hallam. If I don't get anywhere with the medical records people I'll try the CL again though it has become fairly pressing to get a paid job, did you combine your voluntry work with your paid job?

If I don't get into Man Met I'll probably still move to Manc as my boyf lives there and I've lived here since I was 5 and I'm sick of it. However, I'll redouble my efforts to get experience so I can reapply to Man Met, Leeds and Sheffield. I know several people who have done the Sheffield course and they speak very highly of it.
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[User Picture]From: mab_led
2008-01-10 01:37 pm (UTC)
I think a lot of the problem may be data protection...they don't want non-employees looking at people's records. So maybe you could emphasise you don't need to be issuing books, and would be happy with shelving etc.

I don't know how you feel about kids but I'm sure they'd like help in the kids' dept with preparing activities and stuff. The lady in the kids' dept in Broomhill was really nice (sorry-again i can't remember her name!) and said I could come back in whenever I felt like giving a spare hand.( I've been too busy and forgotten about it...now I feel mean!)

Actually, before I'd worked in Law I didn't know that law firms often have small library/information rooms. You could try Irwin Mitchell, Halliwells or RJW. Maybe they'd let you do a couple of days work shadowing or something?

As for temping...medical record is a really good idea..other than that I tried Sue Hill and TFPL but everything seemed to be in London. (Although I do recall a few opportunities in Manchester)

OK these are links copied from my library bookmarks. They're pretty obvious and have a largely US bias as with everything online but that doesn't matter (some are interesting but sadly most are arse-dull. Sorry!).


















I have lot more of this ilk but I think you're ready to kill me now!
Also if you look at librarything, worldcat, del.icio.us, openlibrary, Internet public library, googlebooks, oaister, project gutenberg, etc you can amaze your interviewer with your views on technology and the future of libraries
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[User Picture]From: ms_rivet
2008-01-13 06:54 pm (UTC)
I never thought about the data protection issue.

I do like kids and would be happy to work with them.

Thanks for the other ideas and the links it's a great help as it's such a big deal to me.

I need to get two references, can I ask who you got to do yours?
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[User Picture]From: mab_led
2008-01-14 09:25 am (UTC)
One was my manager at the law school. One was a random English prof who I'm sure didn't even remember me (maybe just as well as I wasn't the perfect student!) but must have given me an ok reference anyway.

Good luck!
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[User Picture]From: ms_rivet
2008-01-31 01:33 pm (UTC)
Nearly finished my application, a little late as I had a chronic pain attack followed by a bad cold. I wondered if I could ask you how long your personal statement was?
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[User Picture]From: mab_led
2008-02-01 11:54 am (UTC)

I don't have it any more, but I remember I kept it fairly brief. I think about 1 1/2 A4 pages. If I still had it I'd show you so you could have a laugh- it was so crap! And I still got in!
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[User Picture]From: ms_rivet
2008-02-01 03:13 pm (UTC)
That is about what I've done, phew!
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[User Picture]From: down_home_kitty
2008-01-28 11:18 am (UTC)
From what I gather, the major issue with going into a course with no experience required - and it possible to do this - is that you face exactly the same barriers to entry as you're facing now after the MA, except you've got a degree. I don't know if Manchester Met offers a placement scheme as part of the course, but I know some courses do, so that's a way to get around the problem of experience.

By the way, I'm currently doing a graduate traineeship - if you've got any questions about these schemes, I'd be happy to answer them.
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[User Picture]From: mab_led
2008-02-01 11:56 am (UTC)
She could also work part time at the Uni library during study to get something library-related on her CV.
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